Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

bilbaosan
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Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby bilbaosan » Sun Jun 30, 2013 2:14 am

A new member here, studying for Oct 2013. Have gone so far through Preps 30-35 and getting really concerned what kind of knowledge is necessary to pass it. I'm really good in tech and engineering (I've been a software engineer for a decade) but topics such as art, philosophy and poetry/music are admittedly the least clear for me.

Every six PTs I went through there is always at least one RC topic covering one of those subjects, and some tests have more than one. For example, today's #36 was a text about "English Renaissance Latin". I went through this text several times, went through the dictionary and Wikipedia to find out what "intellectual history" is, but still missed 5 out of 7 questions. To be honest, I did not understand that piece of text at all, so even reading the explanations did not help.

So the question: how typical are those passages in modern LSAT tests? Do the test authors still expect us to know the difference between determinism and non-determinism, and what between realism and expressionism in art? It amazes me that they throw in those terms as-is while going into much greater details into explaining how computer conferences work, or what homeostasis is.

Thank you in advance!

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heythatslife
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Re: Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby heythatslife » Sun Jun 30, 2013 3:23 am

Expect more recent ones to be similar in the scope of their RC topics. It's not just by coincidence that you find at least one arts and humanities-related topics on each RC section; I think the passage topic distribution is supposed to be 1 arts and humanities/1 legal/1 hard science/1 social science.

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Br3v
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Re: Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby Br3v » Sun Jun 30, 2013 4:16 am

Didnt read much of the OP but if your question is does knowing about a passage subject matter help, the answer is almost 100% no in any helpful (read: point earning) way.

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mindarmed
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Re: Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby mindarmed » Sun Jun 30, 2013 10:03 am

You dont need to know the difference between realism and idealism to succeed in RC.

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Otunga
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Re: Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby Otunga » Sun Jun 30, 2013 10:05 am

RC should be all legal and social science passages. For me, it's the natural science and art passages that are on occasion incomprehensible. But the legal and social science stuff is cake. More passages on philosophy too, please. (philosophy major)

magickware
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Re: Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby magickware » Sun Jun 30, 2013 10:09 am

Your prior knowledge is "helpful" in RC, but it's really more about your ability to quickly discern the argument and the supporting information and retain said information.

So don't worry about the details or the subject matter. You'll get frustrated very quickly if you do. Instead, just treat each as an exercise where you're boiling them down to "thesis statement/main point, arguments that are for or against main point".

And virtually all modern RC sections go like this - 1 science, 1 culture/lit/soc. sci, 1 minority, 1 legal/law. Not in that order though.

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ScottRiqui
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Re: Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby ScottRiqui » Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:20 am

Br3v wrote:Didnt read much of the OP but if your question is does knowing about a passage subject matter help, the answer is almost 100% no in any helpful (read: point earning) way.


I've found that knowledge of the subject can be helpful. There was an RC passage on the last test where I knew a LOT about the subject in question and the ideas/attitudes that were under discussion. As a result, I found it very easy to "get myself oriented" in the subject. I immediately knew what they were asking in each question, and why they were asking it. In short, both the passage and the questions immediately "made sense" to me, which doesn't always happen.

Of course, there's little you can do to improve your chances of it happening, but when it does, it's a pleasant surprise.

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SteelPenguin
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Re: Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby SteelPenguin » Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:38 am

ScottRiqui wrote:
Br3v wrote:Didnt read much of the OP but if your question is does knowing about a passage subject matter help, the answer is almost 100% no in any helpful (read: point earning) way.


I've found that knowledge of the subject can be helpful. There was an RC passage on the last test where I knew a LOT about the subject in question and the ideas/attitudes that were under discussion. As a result, I found it very easy to "get myself oriented" in the subject. I immediately knew what they were asking in each question, and why they were asking it. In short, both the passage and the questions immediately "made sense" to me, which doesn't always happen.

Of course, there's little you can do to improve your chances of it happening, but when it does, it's a pleasant surprise.


Oddly enough, I find this works backwards on LR questions.

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ScottRiqui
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Re: Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby ScottRiqui » Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:50 am

SteelPenguin wrote:
ScottRiqui wrote:
Br3v wrote:Didnt read much of the OP but if your question is does knowing about a passage subject matter help, the answer is almost 100% no in any helpful (read: point earning) way.


I've found that knowledge of the subject can be helpful. There was an RC passage on the last test where I knew a LOT about the subject in question and the ideas/attitudes that were under discussion. As a result, I found it very easy to "get myself oriented" in the subject. I immediately knew what they were asking in each question, and why they were asking it. In short, both the passage and the questions immediately "made sense" to me, which doesn't always happen.

Of course, there's little you can do to improve your chances of it happening, but when it does, it's a pleasant surprise.


Oddly enough, I find this works backwards on LR questions.


I can see that. LR problems are so short that there's less benefit gained from being able to get "oriented" quickly, but the chances of screwing yourself by bringing in outside knowledge/ideas seems to be higher.

bilbaosan
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Re: Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby bilbaosan » Sun Jun 30, 2013 5:19 pm

Thank you everyone. A few comments.

Br3v wrote:Didnt read much of the OP but if your question is does knowing about a passage subject matter help, the answer is almost 100% no in any helpful (read: point earning) way.


At least in my case that is not true. If the topic is familiar, I typically get at max two answers wrong (usually none). But if the topic is unfamiliar, I typically get at max two answers right.

Familiarity with the topic here means not having the exact, specific knowledge, but at least the understanding of what the basic terms mean.

bilbaosan
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Re: Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby bilbaosan » Sun Jun 30, 2013 5:29 pm

magickware wrote:Your prior knowledge is "helpful" in RC, but it's really more about your ability to quickly discern the argument and the supporting information and retain said information.


That's where the problem is. The text often is so incomprehensive that even after reading the passage multiple times I'm puzzled whether the author actually wanted to say anything.

Like that abstract art, when you look at a "painting" not too different from what your kindergartener draws every day, and asked what was the main idea of that picture. It is like "what? that thing has a main IDEA??" Then you think, yeah, "its author missed his daily medications" is the idea. But it is never presented in the list :)

And virtually all modern RC sections go like this - 1 science, 1 culture/lit/soc. sci, 1 minority, 1 legal/law. Not in that order though.


Yeah, here it goes then. At least it means I can spend more time on other topics.

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Re: Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby magickware » Sun Jun 30, 2013 6:10 pm

bilbaosan wrote:That's where the problem is. The text often is so incomprehensive that even after reading the passage multiple times I'm puzzled whether the author actually wanted to say anything.


This is because you're focusing on the actual content, rather than the argument, format, and specificity of the passage.

The priority of what you're looking for in the passage should be-
---What is the argument being made here? What is the author trying to convey?
This can vary from the author making a really strong point (the entire passage is nothing but the author supporting his PoV), to the author being virtually nonexistent (the passage is either a pure info dump where we see one or two or X amount of perspectives with the author not showing his PoV).
---What perspectives are present, and who does the author agree with?
Typically you'll have two different perspective duking it out, with the author siding with one. Other times you'll have the author giving a third perspective that he likes over the other two. Occasionally you'll have upwards of 4 perspectives at once.
---What exact details are given?
This is the least important part, but important nonetheless if you want a perfect score. It almost always has to do with the supporting information given for the various premises in the passage.

The actual content should be irrelevant. Unfortunately this is difficult to achieve, as we have a tendency to focus more on things that we know about/enjoy reading. However, this is something that you MUST be able to get over if you want to be successful on the RC.

You would be wasting time if you think you need to get more knowledge of random subject matters to be better on the RC. Just focus on the things that the RC actually wants you to focus on.

bilbaosan wrote:Like that abstract art, when you look at a "painting" not too different from what your kindergartener draws every day, and asked what was the main idea of that picture. It is like "what? that thing has a main IDEA??" Then you think, yeah, "its author missed his daily medications" is the idea. But it is never presented in the list :)


Uh, no.

While there are some RC passages that are just out of whack, in that they have no real conclusion or terribly unclear arguments, the vast majority of them are very uniform in what they're saying.

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patfeeney
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Re: Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby patfeeney » Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:57 pm

Think of it this way:
The LSAC can write RC passages about anything that falls into those four categories.

There is no possible way that any one test taker knows everything about every topic presented in each test. That would be like someone being able to tell you the precise plot of every book at your local library. It doesn't happen.

However, if you focus on the argument - whom the author supports, what are the two sides, are there any sides, how does the passage go about itself (does it present two sides and go in depth with them? does it highlight the background of an issue and then different approaches to it?) - this not only is the way to go about it but might also help you understand what the hell the passage is saying.

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Re: Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby bp shinners » Mon Jul 01, 2013 1:30 pm

ScottRiqui wrote:
SteelPenguin wrote:
ScottRiqui wrote:
Br3v wrote:Didnt read much of the OP but if your question is does knowing about a passage subject matter help, the answer is almost 100% no in any helpful (read: point earning) way.


I've found that knowledge of the subject can be helpful. There was an RC passage on the last test where I knew a LOT about the subject in question and the ideas/attitudes that were under discussion. As a result, I found it very easy to "get myself oriented" in the subject. I immediately knew what they were asking in each question, and why they were asking it. In short, both the passage and the questions immediately "made sense" to me, which doesn't always happen.

Of course, there's little you can do to improve your chances of it happening, but when it does, it's a pleasant surprise.


Oddly enough, I find this works backwards on LR questions.


I can see that. LR problems are so short that there's less benefit gained from being able to get "oriented" quickly, but the chances of screwing yourself by bringing in outside knowledge/ideas seems to be higher.


The issue here is confidence and familiarity, in both cases.

For RC, there is absolutely no need for prior knowledge on either the subject or the specific language. Any term of art used will either be defined or irrelevant to the questions. But knowing them allows your brain to actually read over it without having to dedicate power to figuring out what the heck is being talked about. So your knowledge of the intricacies of abstract expressionism isn't helpful to the questions, but it is helpful to allowing your brain to think about the argument structure in the passage instead of focusing on that AND trying to figure out what in the world all of those high-level terms means. You're also more confident dealing with a subject of which you're already familiar.

These things cut in the exact opposite direction for LR. Since it's short, you don't have a lot of crazy stuff to comprehend. And a passing familiarity or expertise with the subject matter often leads to OVERconfidence and the bringing in of outside information not presented in the stimulus, both of which lead to incorrect answers. The one exception is the science questions for people who think they're bad at science - their brain just shuts down as soon as they see a phrase like acetylcholinesterase inhibitor.

To OP - you really have to accept the fact that outside knowledge of these subjects isn't necessary - they provide all the information you need. Use structural keywords to guide your understanding of the viewpoints and conclusions. If there's a phrase you don't know, replace it with something so that your brain doesn't spend too much time on it (good advice for LR, too - I tell my students to change science words to things like "Snickers" since the subject doesn't matter, just the logic). And be happy that you can get through those science passages - everyone else around you is struggling through them.

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Re: Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby laww » Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:30 am

LSAT needs to add a math section based solely on logic. It will be harder than logic games because honestly I don't understand how people find it hard to find inferences on LG... the inferences you draw basically answer all the questions except the local scope ones...

You can choose to have them score the math section instead of 1 LR section.

LR is so annoying ._.

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ScottRiqui
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Re: Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby ScottRiqui » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:11 am

laww wrote:LSAT needs to add a math section based solely on logic. It will be harder than logic games because honestly I don't understand how people find it hard to find inferences on LG... the inferences you draw basically answer all the questions except the local scope ones...

You can choose to have them score the math section instead of 1 LR section.

LR is so annoying ._.


I think we'd all love a "build your own LSAT" option, just because we all have different strengths.

You don't see how people can struggle on LG, but some of us struggle with it nonetheless. I lost 8 of my 15 total missed points to logic games on the June LSAT.

But, I've been at a consistent -1 or -2 per section in LR since the very first day of my prep, so I could turn around to you and say "honestly I don't understand how you can not see what a LR stimulus is saying, or not recognize that it's giving you everything you need to answer the question". But that wouldn't be very productive, and would probably seem a bit insulting, wouldn't it?

laww
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Re: Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby laww » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:23 am

Yeah but I'm really not good at LR regardless of how much I try.

I haven spent about 20 hours reviewing strategies but I'm still missing ~5 questions on LR.

So confusing... I'm changing my strategy around so I can gaurantee -0 on RC and LG. Even with another 90 days I doubt I can improve LR any further. I'm a moron when it comes to LR.

My point is that LG is learnable to the point that you can gaurantee -0. You can't do the same for LR.

LG is much easier than LR in that regard. Half the time you can't even figure out WTF a stimulus is saying. Yet if you draw inference properly you can 100% answer all non local questions.

As for RC.. its in between LR and LG. It is more learnable than LR because if you can keep a mental note of WTF you just read in each paragraph then you can answer most of the questions.

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Re: Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby magickware » Tue Jul 02, 2013 8:39 pm

laww wrote:My point is that LG is learnable to the point that you can gaurantee -0. You can't do the same for LR.


Na.

LR is very learn-able. The only reason LG is considered more learn-able (imo), is because it is more "consistent" than RC and LR. In LG, there must be one single answer that is undeniably true. LR and RC have a lot of questions that can hedge on a single misreading of the stimulus/passage. However, even those misreads have a consistent basis.

laww
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Re: Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby laww » Tue Jul 02, 2013 8:55 pm

Ok then tell me a way I can go from -5 wrong on LR per PT to -0 without wanting to blow out my brains.

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JasonH
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Re: Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby JasonH » Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:02 pm

laww wrote:Ok then tell me a way I can go from -5 wrong on LR per PT to -0 without wanting to blow out my brains.


Take out a blank word document after finishing a practice test. Start question 1, and go through abcde and write 1 sentence to why each answer is wrong. If you can't get it down to 1 sentence then you don't understand it. After doing so many of them you will start to realize that you are using the same words to describe similar flaws, and you will pretty much for the most part start to see the patterns after you deconstruct 6 or 7 LR passages.

I listened to music while I did this, so might help you from blowing your brains out.

bilbaosan
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Re: Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby bilbaosan » Wed Jul 03, 2013 3:13 am

magickware wrote:This is because you're focusing on the actual content, rather than the argument, format, and specificity of the passage.

The priority of what you're looking for in the passage should be-
---What is the argument being made here? What is the author trying to convey?
This can vary from the author making a really strong point (the entire passage is nothing but the author supporting his PoV), to the author being virtually nonexistent (the passage is either a pure info dump where we see one or two or X amount of perspectives with the author not showing his PoV).
---What perspectives are present, and who does the author agree with?
Typically you'll have two different perspective duking it out, with the author siding with one. Other times you'll have the author giving a third perspective that he likes over the other two. Occasionally you'll have upwards of 4 perspectives at once.
---What exact details are given?
This is the least important part, but important nonetheless if you want a perfect score. It almost always has to do with the supporting information given for the various premises in the passage.

The actual content should be irrelevant. Unfortunately this is difficult to achieve, as we have a tendency to focus more on things that we know about/enjoy reading. However, this is something that you MUST be able to get over if you want to be successful on the RC.

You would be wasting time if you think you need to get more knowledge of random subject matters to be better on the RC. Just focus on the things that the RC actually wants you to focus on.


This was some really good advice here, thank you very much!

One more thing to watch out is author attitude - is author criticizing, supporting or just describing? If there is a conclusion, does the author think it is likely to happen or unlikely? Those are often asked directly.

bilbaosan
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Re: Is modern LSAT more suited for techies?

Postby bilbaosan » Wed Jul 03, 2013 3:21 am

laww wrote:Ok then tell me a way I can go from -5 wrong on LR per PT to -0 without wanting to blow out my brains.


When you go through, what are the reasons you miss those 5?

I go through Prep and analyze every question I either missed, or marked a correct answer but was not confident about it (I mark those with a question mark). Vast majority of them are:

- misunderstood the question (i.e. asked for assumption but chosen the answer for conclusion - and LSAC conveniently had there the exact answer for conclusion)
- did not understand the stimulus/question/answer, lack of English. Those are fatal but there aren't too many of those on LR, and those might not apply to you.
- got the answer which looked good/nice. Those are usually out of scope. Real answer rarely looks nice.

Once you figure out why you miss them, you'll see what you can do to correct it. For example, I started underlying the word "assumption" in question, and did not misunderstand any of those in last tests. Maybe something like that would help you as well.




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